New York State Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe emphasized individual rights and advocated for the legalization of marijuana during a town hall hosted by the Cornell Libertarians on Sunday evening.
Sharpe, a 2016 candidate in the running for the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nomination, spoke to a crowd of about 30 Cornellians and local residents in Goldwin Smith Hall.
Andrew Hollister, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor who ran for Rochester City Council in 2017, opened up the town hall with a personal anecdote about his personal decision to get politically active after starting a small business.
Sharpe addressed the claims that he could not win by describing the current political climate as anti-establishment. Sharpe said that New York was ready for him in the aftermath of upset wins by President Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 2018 Democratic primaries.
He pointed to Democratic control of the New York State government as a reason for his candidacy, claiming that “if they had done their job, I wouldn’t be here.”
Sharpe denounced Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) failure to respond to the needs of residents, later specifically criticizing Cuomo’s lack of response to rising suicide rates within the farming industry.
He said that small farms should face the same regulations as small businesses on the types of products they offer and stated that consumers “should decide,” not himself.
In line with his emphasis on the importance of decentralization and transparency, Sharpe declared that “as long as you’re transparent,” consumers and producers should be able to buy and sell as they please.
“What I’m focused on is getting you happy so that you stay,” Sharpe said, emphasizing his goal to incentivize New York residents to remain in the state.
When asked a question about gun control, Sharpe said he is “the only candidate that supports all your rights all the time.” Both Sharpe and Hollister criticized the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2013 as part of commentary on Cuomo’s policies. The SAFE act was signed by Governor Cuomo in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, implementing a universal background check system and broadening the number of guns banned as assault weapons, according to Politico.
“When the SAFE Act passed, I couldn’t help but feel my rights were violated,” Hollister said.
Sharpe commented on low voter turnout rates in New York when further asked about his ability to win. He responded by citing statewide voter turnouts during the 2014 gubernatorial election. In doing so, Sharpe depicted Cuomo as beatable, referring to him as “his majesty.”
Sharpe argued that votes for him would encourage a change in the two-party system, explaining that “if you make that vote, we will have change.”
Citing a huge burnout rate in teachers as a result of a structural flaw in the state’s education system, Sharpe also called for lower taxes and a reformed education system as part of his plan to boost happiness among New Yorkers.
Sharpe outlined plans for a restructured education system, advocating for an elimination of the K-12 public school system in favor of a K-10 program with a greater focus on earlier advancement into adulthood.
Sharpe also discussed the legalization of marijuana as part of his happiness platform, suggesting it as a possible solution to the opioid crisis as “people will choose cannabis over opioids.”
“If weed makes you happy, I want you to be happy,” he said to applause from town hall audience members.
Sharpe will be back on the campaign trail this week with events scheduled for the rest of October.